Nhung Nguyen (Nguyễn Hồng Nhung in Vietnamese name form) is a sound artist from Hanoi, Vietnam. She is the person behind the solo experimetal project Sound Awakener, active since 2011.
Sound Awakener has been releasing stuff on her own or with the help from labels/netlabels, providing works for visual/multimedia projects and performing her own stuff.
She recently just had a CD released by Soft, in collaboration with Linear Bells from Nantes, France. The album is called Belonging to the infinity and it is available on http://softrecords.bandcamp.com/. It is an ambient release and the pair had a great time working on the material. With lush and emotional final tracks.
Archipel: How do you like to spend your spare time?
Sound Awakener: I always like to spend my free time with family and friends. My hobbies are sports, crafting, spending time with nature,…
A: What are your current and future projects?
SA: I am currently working on my solo releases and some collaboration with other artists, including some video artists. I also perform with local artists here in Hanoi. I look forward to work on providing sound for visual projects in the future.
A: Could you please describe the experimental scene in Vietnam??
SA: Vietnam is a great country for experimental musicians. We have a lot of material from traditional Vietnamese music to work on, including a pretty wide range of traditional instruments to experiment extended techniques. Vietnamese traditional music has a lot of improvising elements, which really works for us.
I live in Hanoi, which is basically a huge sound installation for me. Nowadays it is a pretty noisy city (hence some foreigners tend to call it Hanoise instead). The environment is very inspiring to work, especially when I need some samples/field recordings.
Vietnamese experimental music has been developing since the 90s and right now we are doing all our best to keep the scene alive. In Hanoi, where I live there are over 20 artists currently active and we perform quite often.
The styles are diverse – from improvising music, electroacoustic music to harsh noise. I think the enviroment for experimental music in Vietnam is small but we have the chance to connect and reach out to foreign artists and collaboration thanks to underground venues, the Internet and cultural organizations (e.g Goethe Insitut, Institut Francais de Hanoi,…)
A: Can you please give some examples of traditional Vietnamese instruments that you like or know?
SA: There are too many for me to know (Wiki mentions some http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traditional_Vietnamese_musical_instruments). But I like đàn bầu (monochord zither), đàn tranh (16 – string zither) and đàn đáy (long-necked three-stringed lute with trapezoidal body, used in ca trù singing). These are often used in traditional music performance but we found a lot of ideas to use them in experimental performance
A: What do you like to craft in particular? You mean music or also physical objects?
SA: Both. Besides music I usually work with air – dried clay and felt.
A: How do you sculpt your sound?
SA: Basically I try to stay true to myself. It is also a matter of focusing on letting the sound flow naturally through my mind, my awareness and my “awakening”. But my answer is simple: I have to stay true to the sound that suits me most and that’s it.
A: Your influences are obviously abstract and classical, why?
SA: First of all, I have to say I don’t have any musical influences. I’m kind of tired by the question coming from the press that’s asking about my biggest influences. It’s strange but I have my vision, my goal, my methods of working, all completely on my own.
My music is obviously abstract. It comes from the complex arrangement of my mental statement, some inspiration from nature and the interaction of mind – sound – environment.
However I don’t think it is something related to classical music. I had a few years studying classical piano and still, it is a memorable period of my life. I really love classical music and my connection with piano is very strong but I don’t think it influences the way I create experimental music.
It is easy to misunderstand that my formal classical music training was something like a background or an influence to my later work. Instead, it is like a totally separate, different world.
A: Please tell me more about the artists you are collaborating with and your relationship to them?
SA: I’m currently collaborating with two artists. One is Hidekazu Imashige a.k.a Gallery Six from Japan. We had one collaborative track released in January on Bandcamp (link here [https://gallerysix.bandcamp.com/track/sequence]). We are working on more tracks right now, I hope it will potentially lead to a full – length release. Hidekazu and I both have a strong connection with nature and I’m much inspired by his photos as well as music.The other artist is Vu Nhat Tan from Hanoi – one of the pioneers in Vietnamese experimental music, you can find our ‘Hanoise’ project here [https://hanoisemusic.wordpress.com]. We started performing together not so long ago, in March and we are working on a lot of ideas for upcoming shows.
A: What kind of performances do you give with your other Hanoi artists? Full video-audio-all-encompassing experience?
SA: We perform music, with styles ranged from ambient, techno, electroacoustic to harsh noise. Sometimes the music is performed with live visual/video art.
A: Anything you would like to mention, add or comment ?
SA: Thank you for featuring my mix and for the great talk. It is nice for me to introduce my music and some collaborative tracks with my favorite artists.
Interview by PH Paradis.